Chester-le-Street Town LFC v Burnley FC Women
FA WNL Division 1 North
Moor Park Ground
13th January 2019
Burnley FC Women continued their winning run in the FA Women’s National League Division 1 North with a victory over Chester-le-Street Town Ladies FC. Sarah Greenhalgh scored the only goal that avenged an opening game of the season defeat for the Clarets Women.
In the event the Clarets Women had to endure two close chances from the home side, have two strong calls for penalties waved aside and see top scorer Sarah Greenhalgh subbed off with a knee injury.
In the match Burnley FC Women started with the advantage of both the wind and low sun behind and were quickly on the offensive. On five minutes Chester-le-Street took advantage of the situation and broke forward with pace. In a one on one tussle with Clarets defender Sammy Fleck, the home side striker Lizzy Thompson-Clark shot from inside the box where Clarets Keeper Lauren Bracewell quickly responded with a diving save to her right.
As the half progressed Greenhalgh caused turmoil as she attacked the home side’s goal. A reckless tackle saw her spectacularly upended. Undeterred she was soon back in action and shooting at goal from a sharp angle. The goalkeeper was unable to hold the ball forcing the home side to clear through frantic defending as the Clarets tried to capitalise.
The Clarets maintained the pressure as player of the match Leah Embley and Katie Halligan added to the forward momentum, but a goal remained elusive until defender Nicola Shirtcliffe won a corner on a forward run. The corner was played short by Embley and Greenhalgh intercepted. A quick passing exchange created the space for Greenhalgh to turn at goal and shoot hard above the keepers reach.
Greenhalgh continued to torment the opposition and was again tripped as she cut past players at pace. The resulting free kick by Justine Wallace was launched at goal and again the keeper could not hold the ball though it was cleared as the Clarets raced to intercept.
In the final few minutes of the half further controversy surrounded Greenhalgh. As she cut past defenders inside the box, she was clearly pushed off balance with only the keeper to beat and surprisingly the referee chose to wave aside the penalty appeals.
Greenhalgh’s game was cut short when she challenged for the ball and suffered a twist to the knee moments before half time and had to be substituted off at the break.
After ten minutes of the second half the home side had their best chance of levelling the score. The Clarets failed to clear a cross into the box and a loose ball fell to striker Sarah Burn who shot hard at the advancing Clarets keeper Bracewell who took the full force of the shot in her face. She bravely continued until the ball was out of play before receiving lengthy treatment.
The Clarets responded when Evie Priestley chased a forward ball and challenged the home side’s keeper who was trying to intercept outside her area. Priestley won the challenge, but the ball spun wildly ahead of her and she was unable to finish the chance. Soon the Clarets were attacking again, and another penalty appeal was ignored when a defender controlled the ball with an outstretched arm.
When the game entered the final 10 minutes the Clarets felt the pressure of a determined home side and the game became quite open. The Burnley FC Women defence worked hard to maintain a clean sheet. Though they were nearly undone in the fifth minute of stoppage time when a ball was threaded across goal and the home side could not get a foot on it to guide it into the net.
The Clarets defence with Bracewell in goal have remained solid, they have not conceded a goal in the previous seven games (ten and a half hours of football) which is an amazing achievement.
Next Sunday Burnley FC Women play in the Lancashire FA Mercure Dunkenhalgh Challenge Cup. The semi-final encounter will be a very stern test against twelve times winners Blackburn Rovers Ladies FC. Kick-off is 2pm at Padiham FC’s Arbories ground. Entrance is £3 for adults and £1 for under 16s, cash turnstiles only on the day.